Controversial Jewish Mayor reelected in Kharkov

October 26, 2015 15:28

Voters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov reelected Jewish incumbent Gennady Kernes as Mayor on Sunday despite a prior political history of having alienated both Ukrainian nationalists and those with pro-Russian sympathies.

Russian news website Sputnik cited exit polls conducted by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine as showing Kernes having received 59.3 percent of ballots cast.

Last April, Kernes was shot in the back in a failed assassination attempt and subsequently brought to Israel for medical treatment. Community leaders downplayed concerns that the attack had been anti-Semitic in nature, pointing to his contentious politics.

Kernes, initially a vocal supporter of deposed pro-Moscow President Victor Yanukovich and a proponent of increased eastern autonomy,  fled to Russia after the Maidan revolution in Kiev. He had been accused of paying thugs to harass demonstrators and of promoting separatism.

He later switched his position and returned to Ukraine, stating that "if someone had been prisoner of the system, it was the local authorities, and I was one of those.

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